Mobility as a Service: What does it mean for car users?

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is about creating a seamless travel experience, integrating different transport types into a single mobile app; ideally with one payment channel, instead of multiple ticketing and payment options.

Debate on the future of this mobility model has to date focused on ways to encourage the public away from their cars and onto public transport. But the transport landscape is rapidly changing. With the move towards hybrid and electric cars, travelling by personal vehicles is set to become greener, giving the industry much food for thought.

ITSO Ltd is the guardian of the ITSO Specification, which enables smart ticketing technology and aims to make travelling on public transport seamless and accessible. If planning and buying tickets for travel is easy, passengers will shift towards greener forms of transport, or alter the way they use their personal car.

In Europe, existing models of MaaS do include the car in various forms. One of the world's first examples was established in Germany. Hannover's Mobility Shop integrates registration, routing, booking and billing for several transport modes including public transport, but also taxis and car sharing, with users tailoring their travel bundle to their individual needs.

In Finland, for the past two years residents in Helsinki have also been able to use a single app, Whim, to plan and pay for all modes of public and private transportation. Whim connects the travelling public with train, taxi, bus, car share and bike share operators and allows them to either use pay as you go or pre-pay for all services as part of a monthly mobility subscription.

In the UK, transport providers are still experimenting with MaaS. Whim is currently being trialled across the West Midlands in the UK, while in London, apps such as Uber are positioning themselves as 'marketplaces' for transportation. Uber is one of 675 smartphone and online apps including live public transport data from Transport for London in its offering, showing users the fastest and cheapest way between two destinations using the London Underground and buses, in addition to private car hire.

But away from taxis or car shares, there are arguments that the private car can have a place within MaaS models. With the UK government set to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, travelling by personal vehicles is set to become greener, and the transport industry will need to continue to include the car in transport planning for some decades to come.

There should be particular consideration of the role of the car in 'first/last mile' journeys – the joining up of a final transport stop with the last mile to a passenger's home or workplace. For rural areas this is particularly important as there are likely fewer public transport options.

Electric vehicles could be integrated into a MaaS model, with apps providing journey planning and highlighting the charging points for points for vehicles on route, in conjunction with public transport options. Smart ticketing could enable electric vehicle drivers to plan their route to a train station, book their parking, pay to charge their vehicle and buy their rail tickets, all within one smartphone app.

It's a move that could be closer than you think. In May 2019, the West Midlands Local Industry Strategy was published. It proposes the creation of the UK's first Future Mobility Zone, testing new technologies between Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry. This will include establishing infrastructure to support development of local charging and energy transmission systems for electric vehicles across the region.

At ITSO Ltd we believe smart ticketing technology will play a key role in altering habits, breaking down the barrier between personal and public transport modes. Importantly, MaaS solutions will be able to provide passengers with all their transport options in one app. Realtime travel data and live traffic conditions will give them the information they need to decide whether using their car will be the fastest way to complete their journey, or if they'd be better off on the train, bus, on a bicycle, in a ride share, or even one day, in an autonomous vehicle.

You can learn more about MaaS/Future of Mobility at this year's North of England Transport Summit on the 26th November. This topic will be covered in Session 3: Future of Mobility: Transforming travel and the areas we live in. To book your place, click here.